Saint John regional policing proposal to be studied
Saint John Police chief will help prepare report on how much it would cost to police Fundy region
The Saint John Police Force will work with the Fundy Regional Service Commission to prepare a report on how much it would charge to provide policing services to surrounding communities.
But Chief Bill Reid says he needs more information from the communities about what level of policing they want before he can offer a price.
Less than a year ago, Saint John Mayor Mel Norton could not get a seconder for his motion to study regional policing.
But the Fundy Regional Service Commission — which represents the City of Saint John, the towns of Rothesay, Quispamsis, and Grand Bay-Westfield, the village of St. Martins, eight local service districts and a parish — voted on May 26 to look into how much it would cost to have the Saint John city police handle the entire Fundy Region, and individual communities.
The request comes in light of the rising costs of RCMP services in local service districts (LSDs) and the provincial government's plan to eliminate subsidies for policing over the next four years.
Saint John Board of Police Commissioners' chair Jonathan Franklin says the force is very interested in the proposal, but the issue is complicated.
I think it's a good idea that we regionalize our force to a certain extent or other but you know, we've had the original reaction that Rothesay and Quispamsis and Grand Bay are not particularly keen. So what does that do?- Jonathan Franklin, Saint John Board of Police Commissioners
"I think it's a good idea that we regionalize our force to a certain extent or other but you know, we've had the original reaction that Rothesay and Quispamsis and Grand Bay are not particularly keen. So what does that do? If you actually look at the map, you know those [are] key communities in there," he said.
Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Grace Losier has said she likes the RCMP service her community receives.
But in the local service district of Simonds, which borders Saint John, RCMP policing costs jumped $11,000 this year and chair Joan Seeley fears the price will keep rising.
She believes the Saint John Police Force has the expertise and manpower to provide an equal level of service and wonders whether it might be a less expensive option.
Dale Mott, who owns Willow Grove Convenience store, believes the response times would be quicker with the Saint John city police.
He says it currently takes RCMP from Hampton up to 45 minutes to respond to a call.
St George and Black's Harbour are also concerned about RCMP response times and are both considering dropping the Mounties.
The two communities have prepared a report they believe shows they can create their own force, for a price similar to what they now pay for RCMP service.
They have submitted the report to Public Safety Minister Bruce Northrup, who must approve the move. There is no word on when Northrup will respond.
New Brunswick RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown disputes any claim that a similar level of policing can be provided at a lower price.